The Welsh Government has stated that it will continue to support farmers post-Brexit but in a much smarter way, that was the message from Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, to the NFU Cymru annual conference.
The Alliance has stated that 'The WTA supports our farmers and is keen that our precious historic landscape is maintained as a key resource for our Visitors to Wales. Whatever the future holds, beyond the transition periods, we will continue to recognise the agricultural community and other land manager’s huge contribution to our tourism product'.
Over 12,000 responses were received to the consultation on proposals for a new Land Management Programme, to replace the Common Agricultural Policy in Wales. The Cabinet Secretary confirmed that changes to how the Welsh Government supports farmers will not be rushed and made three commitments:
“I have been clear from day one. Maintaining the status quo is not an option post-Brexit because it does not help farmers adapt to the challenges of a different and rapidly moving trading environment. Whether we like it or not, the UK will leave the Common Agricultural Policy next year. That is a certainty. The Basic Payment Scheme is not the most effective way to support farmers after Brexit – it is too blunt an instrument to deliver. There is no link between BPS and a farmer’s effort, the performance of the farm business or the outcomes achieved. The BPS delivers neither long term resilience nor prosperity.
“Our proposed Economic Resilience scheme will target funding towards improving businesses. It will be designed to increase productivity, invest in efficiency and diversification and help farmers adapt to new market opportunities.”
On its tenth birthday Airbnb has released a new report that quantifies offers insights into 'home sharing' in Wales. Airbnb definition of what it is?
'A platform which uniquely leverages technology to economically empower people from every region across the UK, to unlock and monetise their spaces, passions and talents to become hospitality entrepreneurs'.
From July 2017 and July 2018, they estimate that 8.4 million guests used the platform, contributing an estimated £3.5 billion to the UK’s economy. With Airbnb guests spending on average £43 out of £100 per day in the local area in which they are staying, boosting local neighbourhoods and businesses, a useful figure.
They also point out that, their own internal 'research', found that Wales is the top trending UK destination on Airbnb, with the fastest growing number of visitors. Welsh hosts on Airbnb welcomed almost half a million guests, a more than 80% increase on the number of visitors in the previous year. £155 million of economic activity was generated by Airbnb hosts and guests. Wales was the most popular destination for families, with a fifth of all guests arriving on a family trip (21%).
It is worth noting that in 2017 they said ‘Northern Ireland was Airbnb's "fastest-growing" UK visitor destination. Some 132,000 people used the website to book accommodation in Northern Ireland in the year to July 2017, which represented an increase of 144% on the previous 12 months in 2017. The company had 2,600 active listings in Northern Ireland and the report stated "a typical host" earned £2,700 a year, £300 less than their UK average. Welsh hosts earnt on average £2,600 per year this year, £400 down on the UK average. As above Airbnb state Wales has seen an 80% increase in bookings, so has NI dropped from 144%? Maybe Scotland will be the destination with the biggest significant stat next year?
The following are extracts from the Wales Tourism Performance Report for January to June 2018 and show a mixed picture. In the six months from January to June 2018, there were 5.1 million overnight trips to Wales by GB residents, the highest volume of trips recorded for the first six months since the current survey started. Expenditure in Wales stood at £907 million which is the highest amount for this period in any year since the current survey started. There were also record levels of overnight holiday and business trips and substantial increases in visits to friends and relatives in the six months between January and June 2018.
There has also been an increase in the volume of tourism day trips taken in Wales during the first six months of the 2018 with 46.7 million trips taken and an expenditure of £1.9 billion. The expenditure for this period was though substantially lower than in 2017. During the first six months of 2018 there were 430,000 trips taken in Wales by international visitors and expenditure of £167 million, although the sample sizes used for this under the International Passenger Survey are relatively small.
There were also lower average occupancy rates during the first six months of the year, including the Easter period, but rates strengthened during May and June 2018. Overall, the Tourism Barometer, undertaken by the Welsh Government in September, reported a good summer. 84% of the businesses surveyed reported a greater or equal level of visitors compared to last year, but that could also be interpreted as 60% reported a poorer or equal level of visitors compared to last year...take your pick.
Source: 30/10/2018; Welsh Government
WTA Chair, Andrew Campbell has today stated that ‘We are very encouraged to hear that Government investment to the value of £1.3bn has been announced. We now hope that a number of new private public sector partnership tourism projects will be borne from this great news’. It is hoped that the Growth Deal will create thousands of jobs and boost the economy alongside ensuring new investment in transport and infrastructure. This is the first time the Welsh and UK Governments with North Wales stakeholders have come together with a singular aim of developing the region’s economy and infrastructure.
The Chancellor has promised the Welsh Government an extra £550m over the next three years, which we hope will have direct or in-direct benefits for tourism. Whilst being confident that there will be a Brexit deal, the Chancellor has also allocated an additional £500m to UK Government departments to enable them to plan for a ‘No Deal’ scenario, bringing the government’s investment in EU exit preparations to over £4 billion since 2016, so again some of this funding maybe used to boost the tourism industry across the UK including of course here in Wales.
Business Rates are a devolved issue in Wales where different rules apply, although the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) still retains control over aspects of Business Rates. It is therefore unclear at this stage as to how the following statement will actually impact on Wales?
Hammond announced that to ensure second properties are subject to the appropriate tax, the government will consult on the criteria under which self-catering and holiday lets become chargeable to business rates rather than council tax. We already have an additional rule in Wales to England, therefore maybe he will be adopting the Welsh rules which will then see parity between England and Wales?
He also announced that for the next two years, businesses with a rateable value of up to £51k will have their rates reduced by a third.
Tourism Taxation and the Living Wage - Something we have been calling for in the WTA, the introduction of a UK Digital Services Tax that will be targeted at tech giants, generating at least £500m in global sales and will come into effect in 2020 and is expected to raise £400m per annum. The tax will be a 2% of the revenues of search engines, social media platforms and online marketplaces. Fuel Duty will be frozen again, for the ninth year. Beer, spirit and cider duty frozen, however, there is the usual RPI increases on wine. The VAT threshold to be left at the current level of £85k for the next two years and work to be undertaken on how to remove the cliff-edge of VAT registration.
There will be no change in APD rate for short-haul flights and, in future, APD will be inflation indexed to inflation from 2020. Long-haul rates for APD will rise by £2 (£4 for non-economy classes) in 2019. E-passport gates to be opened up to citizens from the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. This means that the KPI for waiting times will be reduced from 45mins to 25mins for these visitors.
The National Living Wage will increase from £7.83 an hour to £8.21in April 2019.
Sharing Economy - test for rent-a-room relief. Following consultation, the government will not include legislation for the ‘shared occupancy test’ in the Finance Bill 2018-19. The government will retain the existing qualifying test of letting in a main or only residence, and will work with stakeholders to ensure that the rules around the relief are clearly understood.
… And finally Owners will no longer pay business rates on public toilets.
Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport, Lord Elis-Thomas, said: “Over the last three years, we’ve seen how this revenue funding has enabled the industry to come to together, work in partnership and deliver projects which have greater impact in a very competitive market-place. As we now turn our focus to Year of Discovery we would like to see even bigger ideas and strategic partnerships developing. We will be prioritising our investment in proposals that evidence genuine regional collaboration and are able to promote the commitment to inclusive growth set out in our Economic Action Plan.”
Proposals are being invited for the next round of tourism investment funds in support of Wales’ thematic years. Visit Wales is looking for big idea projects which make Wales a must visit destination. The Tourism Product Innovation Fund (TPIF) and Regional Tourism Engagement Fund (RTEF) are funds to develop that align with the Year of Discovery for 2019 and future thematic years and that reflect all or any of the three key themes for promoting tourism to Wales - adventure, culture and landscape. Support will also be available for projects that align with The Wales Way initiative. For the Year of Discovery the emphasis is on the experiences that people can have in Wales, inviting visitors to explore and discover what makes us uniquely Wales. This round of RTEF/TPIF funding will has a deadline for submission by 23 November 2018. Find out more information about our tourism funding here
MWT Cymru have undertaken a mammoth 32 hours of live streaming Slow TV in Mid Wales this week.
8 hours in 4 separate locations around Mid Wales. The filming started this week in Lake Vyrnwy where it reached over 108k people on Facebook, despite the weather on Tuesday, they saw an overwhelming positive reaction through comments, shares and interactions on social media. This reaction has continued throughout the week when Wednesday they were at RSPB Yny-hir reserve, wildlife spotters tuned in to get a glimpse of the birds and even a seal at one point!
Today sees Hafren Forest outside Llanidloes, focusing in on the Blaenhafren falls in the heart of the Hafren forest, Friday they will be at Mwnt Beach.
The project has been funded through the Visit Wales TIPF fund and builds on the exsisting #RealMidWales campaign. The campaign is aimed at trying a new approach to marketing Mid Wales. Through research MWT Cymru found that many younger visitors are often put off by glossy campaigns and are looking for a more real and authentic experience. This approach MWT feels works well with the product Mid Wales has to offer.
Picking up on the success of Airbnb's campaign (National Parks Backyard) and the success Norway received with their Slow TV campaigns, they aimed to emulate this exciting new concept and increase awareness of Mid Wales.
This is the first time 'Slow TV' will be used in the UK to market a destination, and MWT are proud to be leading the way in this new form of destination marketing.
Partners on the project include RSPB Cymru, National Trust Cymru, Hafren Dyfrdwy and Natural Resources Wales.
MWT are asking all businesses if they can help promote this campaign through their own social media channels to help boost the exposure for the region.
To find out more please go to their Facebook page www.facebook.com/visitmidwales
or for more information please contact Zoe / Val on 01654 702653
Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP
Chancellor of the Exchequer,
1 Horse Guards Road,
London SW1A 2HQ
17th October 2018
Autumn Budget 2018: Considerations for Wales Tourism Industry
The tourism industry in Wales has consistently demonstrated a very high return on public investment and has been at the forefront of the UK’s economic recovery. VisitBritain calculates that it only takes £26 of public funding to generate £624 of additional tourism revenue for the UK – which equates to just £225 of investment to create an additional job. This is supported by Office for National Statistics research which show that tourism generates considerable additional employment, export earnings and revenue for the Exchequer.
Within Wales tourism generates approximately £6 billion of visitor spend and provides jobs for 172,000 people. In economic terms it contributes 13% of GDP to the nation which is significantly higher than in England (8.6%), Scotland (10.4%) and Northern Ireland (5%). But tourism in Wales operates in an increasingly competitive global marketplace, which can be evidenced by the recent publication of IPS data. Feedback received from our members invariably focuses on rising operating costs together with threats posed by external agencies and even the threat of new taxes, while other industries receive substantial subsidies.
The Wales Tourism Alliance believes that to maintain and grow market share, a number of measures should be considered by the UK Government and be part of the new Tourism Sector Deal specifically highlighting Wales. This would alleviate financial pressures, provide a more equitable trading environment – and create additional trading opportunities:
Therefore, I am taking this opportunity to draw your attention to a number of issues that the Wales Tourism Alliance members are particularly concerned about:
Ours is an industry that post BREXIT contains considerable opportunities for growth, but growth that is dependent on both Wales devolved Government and the UK Government delivering in partnership. We understand the pressures on your department, but believe that the value of tourism to the UK and Welsh economy, requires that you pay this sector more attention in relation to the points above.
Thanking you for your attention.
Chair - Wales Tourism Alliance
97 Harbour Village,
Wales SA64 0DZ
WTA attended this VisitBritain event, which included the Annual Review 2017 and UK Industry Strategy update meetings. At the Annual Review, an opening address was given by UK Tourism Minister, Michael Ellis MP, which was followed by presentations from VisitBritain Director Dame Judith McGregor and VisitBritain CEO Sally Balcombe.
Annual Review presentation content included consideration and celebration of the 2017 IPS figures, which recorded 39 million overseas visitors coming to the UK, spending £39 billion; the Tourism Sector Deal (which is still awaiting sanction from the UK Government); challenges and opportunities presented by Brexit; an update on the £40mn Discover England Fund; performance of the VB Online Shop which generated £27.8 million in visitor spend (£2 million profit); seasonality and dispersal issues (London is “seen as Britain”) – and finally the continuing need to reduce the deficit on the UK Balance of Payments Tourism Account by increasing domestic tourism visits. In conclusion VB wishes to build upon this current platform of economic success by delivering more growth, with an accent upon spend as opposed to volume. Improvement in productivity rates, linked to reducing seasonality was also mentioned.
WTA Chair, Andrew Campbell, whilst acknowledging the success of the UK figures, made comment within the Q/A session that the 2017, 17% fall in visitor spend figures, over 2016, for Wales had generated feelings of disappointment and surprise in equal measure, as overseas visitor numbers were up and tourism businesses had generally reported reasonable levels of trading last year. This has led to some reservations being held about IPS survey methodology, in particular the small sample size, (approx 400) which does not always work in favour of UK areas. The point was accepted and acknowledged.
Topics covered within the BTIG Strategy Meeting included the IPS 2018 figures (Q1); the VB Events Strategy (which was also presented at the TBOE event on 5th October at Celtic Manor); a case study from Marketing Manchester; consideration of Asia Pacific and Middle East markets – and finally a general review of 2018 UK tourism performance to date, at which WTA Chair gave some feedback for Wales.
A wide range of speakers stressed the need for there to be joined up thinking between the private and public sectors if opportunities are to be realised, although an overseas representative from PCMA remarked that “the high level of UK VAT is a barrier to attract international events”. A reminder that the call for a reduction in this tax must continue.
At this inaugural TBOE Wales event, delegates, including WTA, met to discuss how Wales can increase market share of business events from the UK and overseas. The UK Events sector is currently worth £42 billion, with Wales contributing £840 million (2%), highlighting clear potential for growth. For information, Scotland’s share is 8.9%.The choice of venue was appropriate given that the new International Convention Centre Wales will open in Summer 2019. This purpose built facility will be able to accommodate 5,000 delegates and will include a 1500 seat auditorium. There can be no doubt that it will be a “game changer” in terms of raising the profile of Wales as an events destination. To date, £2 million of bookings have been secured, worth £18 million to the Welsh economy. The Business Events Strategy for Wales was presented by Heledd Williams (HOD), who outlined the role of the newly created VisitWales Business Events Department – and set out ways as to how tourism businesses can become more engaged in developing this market sector.
With reference to the recent Welsh Government publication, “Selling Wales to the World” and in particular Conclusion 12), WTA Chair Andrew Campbell asked what more can be done to involve stakeholders in capitalising on events held in Wales – and also commented that the ICC is perceived by some businesses as a South East Wales project, which will not deliver wider economic benefits. The assertion was refuted, with many ideas and examples given as to how opportunities can be accrued, both within and outside the region. For further information businesses should access the Meet in Wales website - https://www.visitwales.com/businessevents